At 1pm today my closest girlfriend began her 3rd round of chemo since she was first diagnosed 5.5 years ago. I remember the day she called to tell me about her initial diagnosis. She had just given birth to her 2nd child two months prior. The hormones from the pregnancy catapulted the cancer's spread in her body, and it was already metastasized, stage 4. Originally breast cancer, straight into bone cancer, and now liver cancer. I HATE that word.....cancer.
I was 18 years old for less than 3 weeks when I originally met Kim. She was my first-year college roommate. She had arrived first, with her family, to begin the set-up of our dorm room living quarters. Although we had talked a couple of times on the phone, move-in day was our initial face-to-face encounter. She was warm and welcoming, polite and full of manners, outgoing and a bundle of self-assured energy, offering a hearty, sincere laugh.
I had my pants on inside out. Yeah, you read it right. I had my pants on inside out. That was me. I had my own style, my own unusual, marching to my own beat, I'll do and say what I want style. (Trust me. With the way the flowered pattern on the outside shown through on the inside, those pants looked SO much cooler inside out.)
Kim never cared that my pants were inside out, and I could tell. Was it something she would have done? Well, who would have is the question? But nonetheless, I just knew she was a non-judgmental, solid and secure soul. And so it was, my first, mostly awful year of college. But with Kim, through that year we laughed. Oh! How! We! Laughed! And as I recall, most of that laughing commenced past the hour of 10pm, sometimes into the wee morning hours. From one 9-month period of living with her, I have memories that will stay with me to the end of my time.
There were a few years post college that we didn't keep in touch a ton, but as our first-born children arrived into each of our lives, our calls to each other picked up again. And how eternally happy I am that they did. She was THE ONE friend who was there for me when my dad was dying and had passed. She was the first person I told, besides my husband, when he he died. She always knew the right thing to say. Always. I'll never forget her arrival at his visitation. She drove over an hour in the cold, Wisconsin wintery weather, by herself to support my mom and me. Her hair was very short and curly, having just grown to that point after her first round of chemo finished. She was one of the first people to arrive, and about the last to leave. She escaped with my daughter to the tv room to sit with her and watch a video so my little (at the time) 2.5 year old could escape the confusion of all that was going on around her.
Her presence there was about the best thing I could have ever asked for. I remember when I laid my eyes on her in that receiving line. So much about that night was a blur, but I remember Kim was wearing a soft pink sweater. I liked that. I really liked that. I love color, and I hate death. I hate the dark colors that go with death. Her pink sweater, her meaningful hug, and even the fact that we laughed a little.....my dad would have loved it too. He was a particular fan of hers, and this latest health news, especially, would have really gripped him.
Life is unfair, and Kim's battle is just another proof of that. I can only hope she knows that I am there for her, in whatever way she needs, as she was and continues to be for me. Because oh, the laughing we have yet to do!!